Friday, May 28, 2010

Brendan Grace: completely and unashamedly Irish

Brendan Grace is an Irish comedian and singer. He played the part of Murphy in the 1995 movie Moondance, and in 1996 he appeared in the Irish TV sitcom Father Ted as Father Fintan Stack. Born in the heart of Dublin in 1952, Brendan was raised in the working class Liberties neighbourhood. His father Seamus worked as a bartender and at other odd jobs to keep the family going. However, this proved to be not enough and Brendan was forced to leave school at 15 to start earning for his family. Brendan has worked with such legends as Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis, Jr. and Liza Minnelli. His work for children’s charities has won him many accolades.

Last night I was lucky enough to attend one of his now rare US concerts. Just as we were about to leave for the show, I said to my wife: "you know I think I want to give Brendan a copy of my book, "Driving Straight on Crooked Lines.."  So I did. Chatting with him before the show, I showed Brendan the following excerpt:

"Brian Stenson, one of my Legionary class-mates from Dublin was based in Salamanca. He and I always had great fun; he’d been based at another school in Mexico when I was at the Irish Institute and we shared a similar sense of humor.
One time, when we’d caught up on all our news, he said to me, “There is something you have to hear, you’ll get a great kick out of it.”
“What do you mean?” I asked.
“I have a Brendan Grace tape!”
Brendan Grace was an Irish comedian whom we both enjoyed. The problem was, finding a way to listen to this clandestine possession within the confines of the juniorate.
“There has to be a tape recorder somewhere,” I said.
“Not a chance,” replied Brian.
I visited Fr. Arumi, the rector. “Father, I need to take the bus out for a run, otherwise the battery may die. It’s been parked for a few days now.”
“Off you go,” he agreed.
“Would it be ok if Brother Stenson came along?”
So Brian and I went for a 90-minute drive on the back roads of Salamanca: long enough to listen to both sides of the tape and laugh our heads off. It did me a lot of good."

I was happy to be able to thank Brendan Grace, in person, for the many times he's made laugh, heartily, over the years - especially during those twenty years in the Legionaries of Christ, when I was so far removed from all things Irish. He is still as funny as ever. However, what most impressed me chatting with him was his easy friendliness and unassuming personality. At the end of the show I met him briefly. He said, "Jack, I want to thank you for the book. I'll read it and I will write to you." How many celebrities do you know who would actually remember a fan's name after delivering a two-hour show? What a great guy. Maybe you have to be Irish born to appreciate all the nuances of his humor - but try this clip for a taste of his extraordinary talent:

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Hi Jack,

That tape must have done the rounds. I remember listening to it as myself and another Irish Legionary drove somewhere. We had to pull in and park we were laughing so much. So Brian must have secreted it to Mexico. It's funny how we missed out on the simple things we took for granted at home. I think I was in Dublin Airport with Alex Anderson when we noticed a bus conductor giving out tickets. We even thought that was funny ..